Thursday, May 31, 2012

Agua Dulce (mile 454)

I'm in Agua Dulce, CA.  It's been 190 miles since my last blog post from Big Bear, so I will quickly summarize some of the highlights and lowlights:

+ Pretty mountains in between the desert sections
+ Meeting my friend Anna and some of her friends on the summit of Baden-Powell
+ A shower, bed, and laundry at the motel on I-15.  Plus (questionable highlight) McDonald's.
+ A nice hot spring on an officially closed but actually quite pretty section of the trail.
+ Pretty fog and ice on the trees before Baden-Powell
- Dodging poodle dog bush for days.  And some poison oak mixed in just for fun.  (I am at least mostly unscathed so far though.)
- Eroding trails across steep rocky or sandy slopes.  Especially in the high winds we had for a day or two.
- Hot hot desert with no shade.  Today is actually one of the hottest days but I got in to town before it got really bad.  The day I got to McDonald's I was feeling a little loopy from the heat.  Even without running low on water, there's only so much you can bake before you feel pretty tired.

Now I am at the Saufley's, where there are tents with cots in the back yard, internet, bikes to head into town (just a mile away), a shower, laundry, and a lot of hikers trying to stay in the shade.  It was 105 degrees a little while ago, but fortunately it's supposed to cool off 20 degrees tomorrow.

I'm actually staying here until Sunday.  Anna's giving Marina a ride out on Saturday evening, we'll figure out any last minute logistics, and then head into the desert together.  250 miles until Kennedy Meadows, which is the start of the Sierra.  A bunch of hot desert before then.  I definitely wouldn't want to hike 2200 more miles of desert, so I'm glad that the end of this phase is in sight.  And it will be great to have Marina back out on the trail!

I'm going to send my dad another SD card from here, so more pics soon.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Photos from Marina's AT overnight (5/19)

Here are some more pictures from my AT hike in Kent, CT last weekend.  Great PCT training!

Here is the Google+ link in case it doesn't load.  I sure hope it does!

Hey everyone, it's Marina here.  Big news!  I'll be joining Dan (aka Heavy) on the trail!  Next weekend, on June 1, I'm flying from Connecticut to LAX, getting a ride from our friend Anna F., and then we are heading to Hiker Heaven (aka Sauflys' trail angel house) in Agua Dulce, where Dan will hopefully be waiting for us.

I can't say I was glad to have, but I needed all this time in Connecticut after my dad died three weeks ago.  I needed for myself, and to help my mom with the thousand things that needed to be done (and many of which are still not done!)  My mom is, for now, still living in Stamford, CT, on her own now.  And now that I am almost done with the things I've been doing here, I'm also excited to meet Dan on the trail.  I am looking forward to the trail, and frankly, backpacking the PCT is the only thing I can imagine doing for the next 4 months of my life anyway, soooooo...... good thing we are hiking the PCT!  I will see how it goes day by day.

I've been doing a little training here as a preparation for returning to the trail.  In fact, last weekend I did a little solo overnight on the Appalachian Trail in Kent, CT - a mere 1.5 hour drive from my childhood home.  The trail was beautiful, and I added a solid 14 miles to my long-distance mileage this summer (4 on Saturday evening, and then 10 miles the next day - all done before 3 pm).   Met a really awesome hiking pair: grandpa-grandson, who are section-dayhiking the entire AT on the weekends, going on 5 years now.  They live in Bethel, CT, and every weekend (when the grandson doesn't have school) they do an overnight, I guess - the grandma drives them and picks them up each day or something.  And buys them chocolate chip cookies.  They were awesome.

Here are some photos from that trip!  I did say hi to the AT for Dan, too.

Anyway, stay tuned next week for our updates... from the trail!  If you are in SF and want to be in touch this summer - Dan and I both have our cell phones with us, so email and phone are good ways to pass along messages.... and please send us mail here (will be updated with Sierra mailing addresses soon).


Sunday, May 20, 2012

Big Bear City/Lake (mile 265)

It's been an up and down week, geographically.

It started off well.  I had a good hike out of Idyllwild and over the summit of Mt San Jacinto, 10,800+ ft. Gorgeous views of both the surrounding mountains and the desert floor 9500 feet below. After the summit I filtered more than a gallon of water for that evening and most of the next day, and camped on a pretty ridge at 8400'.

The next day (Wednesday I believe) I got an early start. There were still patches of snow on the trail.  I started the 17 mile 6500' descent to the next water. Fine at first but hotter and hotter, with no real shade. I tried to ration my water and only ran out a mile or two from the water source. The last few miles were miserable though, and I was definitely thinking about a lot of non-desert places I could be on a plane to the next day. I finally got to the drinking fountain run by the good folks at the Desert Water Agency, and drank at least two quarts (and some salted nuts and dried fruit for electrolytes) in the shade of a large boulder. Then it was still another grueling five miles under I-10 (where a kind soul had stocked coolers of ice cold soda and beer) to Whitewater House, which is basically the backyard of a really sweet older couple. They provide shade, ice water, internet, some food, and general hospitality. The place and the crowd of hikers there cheered me up lots. It was still 100 degrees when I got there at 6:30.

Thursday was a pleasant and cooler early morning desert hike, then a too long but nice siesta at Whitewater nature preserve (with shade and a stream fed pool.) Then I got mildly lost for a while, and relearned the lesson that one should immediately backtrack rather than trying to be clever. Then over a ridge with somewhat alarming 70ish MPH gusts as the sun got low, and finally to a sheltered flat place by a stream.

Friday was a long but gentle ascent back to 8000+' with the welcome reappearance of trees. In the middle there were various bunches of poodle dog bush, which is a fire follower with symptoms like poison oak if you touch it, but I managed to steer clear.

And finally yesterday was pleasant rolling ridge line between 7000 and 8000 feet. Towards the end my right upper calf started to hurt a lot on every step, so today I am resting it up a bit while I resupply in town.

Three of us got a ride from the trail to town from a really nice couple, Mike and Gina Russell. He's even blogged a picture of us already.

I'm 1/10 of the way to Canada. Hiking nine times this far again still seems unimaginable, but still, I'm getting there.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

PCT photos May 6-13

Daniel (AKA Heavy) sent some pictures from May 6-13: flowers, lizards, a snake, some people, beautiful mountains! More pictures here!
(Maybe the people are Maverick and Viper?)

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Idyllwild (mile 178)

I made it to Idyllwild. The terrain is now a brief preview of things to come: mountains! Today the trail was up to 8500' with the first sighting of and then first crossing of snow. Tomorrow I'm taking the day to do town errands and let some sore muscles and blisters heal (and to eat lots, of course.) Tuesday on over San Jacinto (10,200') and then back to the desert for a while.

I'll keep this short since I'm typing on a phone.  Perhaps more tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A picture from today's hike

I didn't manage to upload any pictures here (no working SD card reader) but Viper uploaded a few from his phone, including the three of us (L to R Viper, Maverick, and me, Heavy.)  The matching attire is just a coincidence -- we apparently all had the same thoughts about desert hiking.  More photos soon, hopefully from Idyllwild in 66 miles.

Warner Springs (mile 109)

I got back to Mount Laguna from the San Diego airport at 1 on Sunday, had a quick lunch and bought some supplies, and got back on the trail.  I made it out 9 miles that evening, then did some bigger miles the next two days (25 and 24) and we cruised in to the Warner Springs community resource center, where they're cooking up food and selling hiker supplies, today before noon.  We already ate a second breakfast, are going to eat lunch soon, and are going to hike out some of the delicious locally made pork sausage for dinner tonight.

The desert scenery is beautiful and surprisingly varied.  Everything from meadow to forested stream to high winding switchbacks above big gullies.  A lot of flowers, a variety of lizards, some hawks, some cows.

Hiking with two guys, Maverick (23, from Kentucky) and Viper (34, from Oslo).  It's been good to have company, and has definitely made it easier to keep covering ground.

I have some blisters but that's expected.  Really sore calves, also expected.  My knee, which I was worried about, is holding up great so far!

Having a good time.  More pictures when I can, and maybe an update from Idyllwild on Sunday or so.


Saturday, May 5, 2012

Back to the trail, and photos so far

More of my photos at and Marina's pictures from her phone are at

I'm back in NYC, and heading to San Diego early tomorrow morning.  Marina's staying in Stamford with her mom for now, but will hopefully join me later on at some point.  Thanks to all who sent condolences to her and her family.

I feel very much between two worlds at the moment.  I'm glad I came back east to go to the funeral and to be there for Marina, and I'm sad that I'm leaving.  But I'm also excited to get back on the PCT.  Sitting on the 28th floor of a high rise in Manhattan, with taxi horns honking below, makes the thought of being in the desert tomorrow even more surreal.

It will be interesting to see how much the water situation has changed in the last six days.  It had just rained a bunch before we started, and all known water sources were full.  But the next stretch has less water, and there's been a week of dry weather.

For those keeping track, I'm heading back to Mt Laguna, a tiny town about 60 miles from San Diego.  It's 43 trail miles from the border, which means 2612 or so to go!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Sad news, and a break from the trail

Marina's dad, Leon, died yesterday.  She made it back home in time to say goodbye to him first.  Please keep the Brevdo family in your thoughts in these sad days.

I got the news yesterday and got lucky by finding a ride right when I hiked into Mt Laguna.  An almost-full car of some really nice folks (Shrek, Condor, Freefall, and (not sure of this one) All or Nothing) heading back from ADZPCTKO to Oregon.  They took me as far as the Ontario airport (somewhere in the LA basin) and I got on some planes overnight to JFK.  Now I am about to take the train to Connecticut.  The funeral is tomorrow.  I'll figure out logistics of getting back to the trail later on; it will still be there.